Twitter Executive Joins Biden’s Transition Team: Campaign Update
(Bloomberg) -- Twitter’s director of public policy and philanthropy has joined Joe Biden’s presidential transition team. A judge rejected an effort by Illinois Republicans to roll back emergency voting measures made in response to the coronavirus pandemic. And Kanye West won’t be on Virginia’s presidential ballot.
There are 47 days until the election.
Twitter Executive Joins Biden’s Transition Team
Twitter’s director of public policy and philanthropy has left the social media company to join Biden’s presidential transition team, according to a person familiar with the move.
The executive, Carlos Monje, is a veteran of Hillary Clinton’s 2016 transition team and Barack Obama’s 2008 team.
He served in multiple roles in the Obama administration, including as assistant secretary for policy at the Transportation Department. Politico first reported Monje’s move. -- Jennifer Epstein
Illinois Republicans Rebuffed Over Mail-In Voting Curbs (6:55 p.m.)
Illinois Republicans failed to block changes to state election law that expanded mail-in voting during the coronavirus pandemic, after a judge ruled they hadn’t backed their claims that the measures would allow rampant fraud.
U.S. District Judge Robert M. Dow on Thursday rejected the Cook County Republican Party’s claim that measures implemented by the state’s Democratic governor in May to enhance mail-in voting during the crisis would dilute the GOP’s vote and lead to widespread fraud.
The disputed measures include expanded use of secure ballot drop boxes and requiring officials to accept ballots without enough postage, among others. Republicans cited news articles and isolated cases of election fraud to back their claim.
But the allegations “rest primarily on unsupported speculation and secondarily on isolated instances of voter fraud in other states and historical examples from Illinois during the prior century,” the judge wrote. “Plaintiff cannot demonstrate either that it is likely to suffer irreparable harm or that it has some chance of success on the merits.” -- Erik Larson
Kanye West Loses Bid to Be on Virginia Ballot (5:24 p.m.)
West won’t be on the Nov. 3 ballot in Virginia as an independent presidential candidate after the state Supreme Court denied the rapper’s request to overturn a ruling disqualifying him.
The Virginia Circuit Court for Richmond City had ruled sufficient evidence was presented that West’s campaign fraudulently obtained oaths of support from electors, but West appealed on grounds the ruling was rushed and he didn’t get a chance to counter the claims.
Courts in Wisconsin, Ohio, Arizona and West Virginia have issued rulings that will also keep the rapper off the ballot in those states.
He has qualified in at least Arkansas, Colorado, Idaho, Iowa, Kentucky, Louisiana, Minnesota, Mississippi, Oklahoma, Tennessee, Utah, and Vermont. -- Andrew Ballard and Mark Niquette
Biden Camp Alters Ad to Drop Anti-Semitic Image (4:13 p.m.)
Biden’s campaign has replaced a version of a Spanish-language ad on its YouTube account to remove an image that appeared to have anti-Semitic overtones.
The original ad, called “Dicen Mucho,” featured a photo of White House Senior Adviser Jared Kushner, Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross and Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin with dollar signs over their eyes.
Trump “says that Biden wants to raise taxes. Yes, on the rich,” the narrator says.
Kushner and Mnuchin are Jewish.
The new version of the ad replaces the image with one of President Donald Trump raising a toast. As of Wednesday, the original ad was still airing on some stations, according to ad-tracking firm Advertising Analytics.
“We are committed to our values, and adjusted the ad to reflect this,” said Aaron Keyak, Jewish engagement director for the Biden campaign. He pointed out that the message conveyed in that part of the ad, that Biden believes Trump’s policies benefit the wealthy, still stands.
The sound effects and cartoonish graphics gave the ad a more mocking tone than Biden’s English-language spots in keeping with a Biden campaign strategy to give its Spanish-language ads their own look and feel. -- Gregory Korte
Biden Tells Senators He’s ‘Working Tirelessly,’ Despite Leading Polls (3:41 p.m.)
Biden told Democratic senators in a call Thursday that he isn’t taking his chances of winning the election for granted, despite polls that show him consistently leading President Donald Trump nationally and in some battleground states, according to senators who participated.
“He must have said this three times: ‘I take nothing for granted,’” said Senator Chris Coons, a Delaware Democrat. “‘I know the polls look OK right now but I’m working tirelessly.’”
Biden also spoke about close coordination between his campaign and the campaigns of Senate Democratic incumbents and challengers. Democrats now control 47 seats in the chamber, and only two seats they hold today are seen as competitive while as many as 10 GOP-held seats could flip.
Senator Tim Kaine of Virginia, the Democratic Party’s 2016 vice-presidential pick, said Biden said that his potential success as the next president would depend on which party wins the Senate. Biden said he expects Republicans will try to block his policies at every opportunity, “so he wants us to be successful,” Kaine said.
“He and his campaign are very focused on Senate races even in some states that are not viewed as the top battleground states,” Kaine said. -- Laura Litvan
Republicans to Bring Comey in to Testify a Month Before Election (3:10 p.m.)
James Comey will be in the news again not long before the election, thanks to Senate Republicans, in an echo of 2016 sure to bring back unpleasant memories for some Democrats.
On Sept. 30, Comey will appear before the Senate Judiciary Committee, which is investigating the origins of the 2016 probe into possible collusion between the Trump campaign and Russia. The committee is led by Trump ally Lindsey Graham. Democrats argue that the committee’s investigation is a partisan distraction intended to bolster Trump’s claims that he was treated unfairly.
The timing, just weeks before the election, is uncomfortable for Democrats, many of whom believe Hillary Clinton’s loss was partly due to an Oct. 28, 2016, letter Comey wrote announcing the FBI was reopening an investigation into her use of private emails.
As FBI director, Comey led the initial investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 election, but he was fired by Trump in 2017. Comey’s previous appearances before Congress have sparked tweets by Trump calling the former FBI director “incompetent,” “shady,” “slippery,” “corrupt,” “sanctimonious,” “showboating” or a “liar,” who is “either very sick or very dumb” and should be prosecuted for leaking information.
Warren, Schumer Push Biden to Cancel Student Debt (12:58 p.m.)
Senator Elizabeth Warren and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer are pushing Biden to cancel up to $50,000 per person of student loan debt to stimulate the economy shortly after he’s elected without waiting for Congress.
“Broadly canceling student loan debt will improve the lives of tens of millions of Americans,” said Warren, who authored a resolution to do away with the debt. “It would give a huge boost to our economy as well.”
Schumer, whose support suggests some buy-in among Senate moderates for the proposal, said the two have talked with Biden about it.
Under the proposal, borrowers who make less than $100,000 a year could have as much as $50,000 worth of student loan debt canceled. Smaller amounts of debt would be canceled on a sliding scale for people making as much as $250,000 a year. Warren, who ran in the Democratic primary against Biden, said that canceling $50,000 of loans would wipe out all student debt for 75% of Americans.
The proposal is more generous than Biden’s campaign plan, which would forgive debt from public schools and historically Black colleges for borrowers earning as much as $125,000. His plan wouldn’t cancel the debt, but instead require the federal government to make monthly payments until the forgivable portion was repaid. Trump has suspended student loan payments and reset interest rates to zero until 2021 due to the coronavirus pandemic, but borrowers will still have to repay the loans. -- Daniel Flatley
Americans Lament State of Country As Election Nears (11:53 a.m.)
A Gallup poll found just 14% of Americans are satisfied with the state of the country, a number near historic lows.
In a survey released Thursday, the number of people who said they were happy with the way things are going in the U.S. was essentially unchanged from July and August, when it was 13%. Some 85% of respondents said they were not satisfied.
That’s a dramatic drop from earlier this year. In February, right before the pandemic hit widely, 45% of Americans said they were satisfied.
Previous lows on satisfaction have come before an election in which the incumbent president’s party lost the White House. Under President Jimmy Carter, it hit a low of 12% in 1979; President George H.W. Bush, a low of 14% in 1992; and President George W. Bush, a low of 7% in 2008.
The survey of 1,019 adults across the country was conducted Aug. 31-Sept. 13. It has a margin of error of 4 percentage points.
A New Poll Shows Biden Maintaining Arizona Lead (11:14 p.m.)
Biden is maintaining his lead over Trump in the new battleground state of Arizona, buoyed by a 2-1 margin among Hispanic voters, according to a new Monmouth University poll.
Registered voters in Arizona favor Biden 48% to 44% against the incumbent, a lead largely unchanged from the most recent Monmouth poll of the state in March. Trump won Arizona in 2016 against Hillary Clinton and the state is seen by both parties as a critical battleground.
Biden is widely supported by voters of color overall, 67% to 28%, and among Latino voters specifically 63% to 33%. Latinos compose nearly a third of the state’s population and have increased in numbers since the last presidential election.
Biden is also favored among voters with ties to the military 48% to 44%. Over one third of Arizona voters have a household connection to the U.S. military. The poll was conducted September 11-15 and has a margin of error of +/-4.8 percentage points. -- Emma Kinery
Biden Ad Spurred Trump Push to Restart Sports (10:15 a.m)
Trump said he was spurred to push to restart college sports by a TV ad from the Biden campaign.
In an interview with Fox Sports Radio on Thursday, Trump said he was motivated by Biden’s 30-second “Anthem” ad, which showed empty football fields, stadiums, schools and churches.
“Trump put America on the sidelines,” the ad copy says as a somber version of the “Star-Spangled Banner” plays. “Let’s get back in the game.”
“I saw the ad, and that’s actually what got me into gear, because I said, oh wait a minute. I want it to happen, but I really didn’t think about getting involved,” Trump said in the interview. “When I saw the ad, I said let’s get involved and get it open.”
Trump first argued that college football shouldn’t be halted due to the coronavirus in a call-in to Fox Sports Radio host Clay Travis on Aug. 11, saying it would be “a tragic mistake” and arguing that college players are at less risk because they are “so powerful and so strong.”
Biden’s ad began running weeks later, on Aug. 28, and Trump renewed his push to restart college football last week. -- Jennifer Jacobs
Biden Leans into Health Care in Latest Ads (7:05 a.m.)
The Biden campaign’s latest ads are focusing on health care, an issue that helped the Democrats win back the House in 2018.
The ads target Trump for his attempts to roll back the Affordable Care Act, including the administration’s backing of a lawsuit seeking to dismantle the law entirely.
“Donald Trump is looking to roll back those protections for pre-existing conditions in the middle of a pandemic,” the father says. “It’s mind-blowing.”
At a town hall in Philadelphia Tuesday, Trump again promised that he would be unveiling a health care bill that would protect pre-existing conditions, though White House chief of staff Mark Meadows said Wednesday that it was more of an executive action “with a legislative component.”
Trump Facebook Ad Criticizes Biden’s Message on Masks
The Trump campaign’s latest Facebook ad argues that Biden’s muddled messaging on a national mask mandate shows a lack of “mental fortitude.”
“Either you support a national mask mandate, or you don’t,” the ad copy reads. “Joe Biden can’t stick to one message, or maybe he can’t even remember what his message is supposed to be.”
In recent weeks, Biden has wavered on his exact position on a mask mandate. In August, he called for a three-month national mandate. But in September, he said he would pressure governors and local officials to issue their own mandates since he wasn’t sure if a federal one was constitutional.
On Wednesday, Biden said that after reviewing the issue with his lawyers he now believes he could impose a federal mandate in certain states if the coronavirus is at crisis levels.
A model from the University of Washington projected that deaths from coronavirus would drop by half if 95% of people wore masks whenever they left home.
Polls Show Rough Road for Trump to Snag Maine’s One Elector
Trump looks unlikely to repeat his feat of picking up a spare elector in Maine.
Maine and Nebraska are the only two states that split their Electoral College votes among their congressional districts, but in most elections it doesn’t really matter. In 2016, however, Trump won Maine’s Second Congressional District even while losing the rest of the state.
A Quinnipiac University poll released Wednesday, however, showed 53% of likely Second District voters backed Biden, while only 44% supported Trump.
The Trump campaign has its eye on the Second District elector. Six of the seven winning electoral maps the campaign presented to reporters last week showed Trump winning it, including two maps in which Trump would lose without it.
Trump will hold a rally at an airport in Minnesota on Friday.
Biden will travel to Duluth, Minnesota, on Friday to tour a union training center.
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